The purpose of this social space is to be an interactive site in which you can also order food. It is interactive insofar as it enables you to find current friends, make new friends, interact with other users, create your own profile, and interact with the system and site through interactivity. Its main functions are helping people learn about menu items at any and all restaurants, helping customers decide what to order, helping customers develop relationships with other users, be a quick and easy way to order their favorite (or new) dishes.
The three main affordances in the website are the ordering of food, following friends orders, and making their own favorite orders. These are merely the main affordances; it also affords new relationships between groups of people, and learning about dishes that are new to the person.
The underlying metaphor is that of a diner. The homepage has the layout of a diner counter, in which the user has the ability to track their own order, can easily find their profile, see friends profiles, order, see menu items from any restaurant, see the menu items that are trending, and talk to their friends. One of the main metaphors is that of the sweet diner lady. She is part of the interactivity in that she is also the button for placing one’s order. The scruffy cook is also an interactive button that one can see any food by clicking on him. Another one of the pieces of the metaphor are the tags hanging down. Like kitchen order tags, the tags depict different kinds of food that are possible. We picked this metaphor because the diner is fairly common across the whole of the country, and it is known for its diverse and popular food choices. It also has certain stereotypes that we could play off of, such as the sweet diner waitress and the scruffy cook. The diner counter also gave us lots of material to work with for interactivity.
The main sensory element is the pictures. Because many times people would love to see what exactly their food looks like, we decided that always having pictures of the food would be a good idea. Another sensory element that we incorporated was an interactive system behind the counter that would change theme depending on the kind of food that was chosen. For example, if one were to choose American food, the background would stay the same, however, if one were to choose Chinese the waitress would change ethnicities and the background would change to a bright red with a yellow dragon behind it. While encouraging stereotypes, this kind of interaction is not only fun for the users, but also helps them to feel like the site is more real.
Other interactivity in the site includes one’s avatar. When the user logs on for the first time, they set up their profile, which includes a basic About, and an avatar. When they are logged on, their avatar sits in the far left chair, nearest the waitress. As the user progresses, they can add friends and chat with friends, follow people’s favorite dishes, and much more. All of these show up in particular places on the user’s homepage. This includes their friend’s avatars sitting in the stools next to them if they are chatting with them. And of course, the main interactivity of the site is the waitress as the ordering button and the cook as the picture folder.
This space is an interesting concept. It would depend on how well it actually worked in the real world if I would use it. It would have the potential to actually replace restaurants if utilized well. When designing this site, we catered particularly to an American audience. Focusing our attention on foodies, and those between 18 and 30. This audience helped us to choose pictures instead of many words, as well as the chat capabilities.
The sensory elements especially present in this web-space are motion, aesthetics, and ambiguity. We would involve motion in all of the “clicks” on any pictures (popping up larger), on friends chat (avatar joining you in the diner), a barely perceptible click on the waitress, but an enlarging of whatever dish one has selected. This kind of motion would barely be perceptible, but it would encourage a more interactive site. The mind also processes the click better when there is a visual attached to it. It makes the user feel like the site is less of a site and more of an encounter, thus making it more user friendly and encouraging people to come back and recommend it to friends.
Aesthetics can be seen especially in the changing, interactive background. It encourages cultural diversity by changing to the kind of atmosphere one would have if in an actual restaurant of that genre. The kinds of colors used would reflect those used in actual restaurant of that genre, and the ethnicity of the waitress would change as well. This would encourage the idea in the users that that are experiencing a restaurant like experience, and hopefully encourage them to come back to the site. People go to restaurants not only for the food, but sometimes for the atmosphere as well. This means that in a site attempting to bring the restaurant to one’s own living room, the aesthetics must help the user feel like they are actually in a restaurant.
Ambiguity can be seen in the featured section at the bottom of the screen. The featured menu items would merely be those that have the most favorites, rather than being tailored to the particular user. One can also see ambiguity in the “find friends” section of the space. Here, recommendations would be listed for potential friends, but it would not necessarily reflect any actual personal connection with the recommended person, it would merely be based off of other friends as well as favorite dishes. This ambiguity helps the user to see the site as a place that is as unpredictable as the real world, and could even help inspire new relationships between people. Rather than being a perfect site with no problems or bugs, this small ambiguity would encourage users to see the site as part of the world rather than just a machine.
The interacting of this button helps the metaphorical waitress to look autonomous. Of course with paper there was only so much we could do, however, on screen, once pressed, the waitress could write down the order on the notepad in her hand. This action would make that particular button look autonomous: achieving her own goals rather than the users, and help her work more like a real waitress would, thus encouraging that metaphor in the user’s mind.